All the Normal Addictions
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 1 Peter 2:1
I’m a little repetitive. I write often of abandoning the old life so that I may experience the new one. The Christian life, as Jesus described it, is a daily denial of self to follow him. It’s a theme repeated often in the Bible and so, I repeat it . . . a lot. Occasionally, though, others will look at me as if they simply have no idea what I’m talking about. What if I don’t do anything really bad? I don’t do drugs. I don’t steal things. I just don’t have any big flaws. This is foreign to me as I have so many flaws that it doesn’t occur to me that others don’t see the same in themselves. Considering my drug addiction though, they just don’t have anything that compares. If they’re just not that terrible, then don’t feel any need for transformation.
Change though, according to today’s passage, isn’t just for the drug addict. In the passage, Peter said that, as followers of Christ, we must put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Peter didn’t address the big sins, like murder, adultery, and theft. Rather, he tackled those flaws that often find themselves right at home in our church. We can harbor hateful feelings in the secrecy of our minds. If we’re good at it, we can lie, leading double lives without others realizing it. We can think evil thoughts and, if we’re sharing a prayer request, we can even distribute those thoughts in our Christian circles.
We all have self-destructive behavior patterns. We all have little, normal sins in which we indulge daily. Peter said that these must go. Put them away. Unfortunately, that’s not as easy as taking out the garbage. These behaviors are part of us. They’re our nature. We’re addicted to them. To stop doing them is to stop being ourselves. And that, is Peter’s point. To follow Christ is to become something very different. It doesn’t happen all at once, but to live the new life is to abandon the old one. Daily, if we claim to be Christians, we must search our own minds for those behaviors and thought patterns that keep us from living the lives for which we were made.
With my drug addiction, I had to eventually address it. My life simply couldn’t continue while I was drowning in it. The challenge now though, is all the little addictions that simply aren’t that bad. Those – anger, lust, pride, envy, and slander – may actually be the worst flaws, if they prevent me from following God as I go my entire life without ever having to address them.